City planners for years have resorted to the auto-centric measure of performance known as LOS, or level of service. If the increase in auto traffic causes roadways or intersections to jam, no problem; widen the roadway or add another lane. But just like in the movies; if you build it they will come. Creating more capacity just creates more traffic, causing a deterioration in LOS (expressed as a letter grade from A through F).
So if a roadway was widened due to a LOS drop, pedestrians and cyclists often suffered at the expense of drivers. Now the new language in the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) changes allow for the lead agency (usually the city) to consider LOS only as one option among others. These changes to CEQA pertain to Appendix G, the Evironmental Checklist.
According to the new text in an Appendix G declaration, the applicant must take into account
all modes of transportation including mass transit and non-motorized travel and relevant components of the circulation system, including but not limited to intersections, streets, highways and freeways, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and mass transit".
As cities along the El Camino Real consider how to remake this well traveled roadway (the Grand Boulevard Initiative), it gives them more flexibility in considering the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. Also with the increased importance of Diridon Station in San Jose as a mass transit hub, these new changes will allow cyclists greater access to the area. We see this as a move to more complete streets, and welcome the change.